I admit, it’s a little strange to read spring and summer books when the season is so quickly passing into full-blown autumn, and the hint of snow is in the air. But picking up the following books was refreshing right now: a nice reminder that yes, we will make it to spring again! The green and life will will return to the plants around me in time.
Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook Press, 2012) is full of lush illustrations celebrating the different colors of green, from forest green to pea green to faded green. Each page has a die-cut portion that looks on to a previous or subsequent page, thus emphasizing how different things (even “lime green” limes) are also made of various other shades. After her variations on green, there is a page of “never green” (a stop sign) and “no green” (a winter scene) followed by a wordless page with a child planting. Seeger’s rich painting style shines through in this book, a surprisingly satisfying book dedicated to a spring color. Raisin’s thoughts: He liked the die cuts. (I can’t even tell it’s from the other page!)
Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee (Henry Holt, 2012) is a sweet story of a girl enjoying nature during some bright summer days. The illustrations are done with colored pencils on watercolor paper, and the soft feel adds to the relaxing feel of the girl’s summer day. I especially like the cycle through the girl’s day, ending with her going to bed and dreaming about more summer days. It is a nice reminder that summer is for enjoying the nature around us.
Grandpa’s Garden by Stella Fry and illustrated by Sheila Moxley (Barefoot Books, 2012) follows a child helping his grandpa in, as the title indicates, caring for his garden. They plant the vegetables and fertilize them with compost. The boy waters the growing plants and waits to see the sprouts. Together, grandpa and boy enjoyed toasting their potatos over a fire as fall arrives. The oil pastels are bright. I really liked how Ms Moxley showed the roots of the plants growing in the pictures too. After the story ends, the author has included a few pages of information on how to nurture a garden through all the seasons, a good way to plot a vegetable garden, and other useful information for the want-to-be gardeners.
And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook Press, 2012) is another book celebrating a child growing a garden. In this case, the emphasis is on the child waiting for the brown to go away, and waiting for the green to appear.I love the stark contrast between the brown of the majority of the book and the bright, cheerful green on the last page. The boy is a ray of hope throughout, however, as his bright red wagon, bright red hat, and bright red umbrella provide the hope that the brown would some day pass. I love the illustrations (woodblock printing and colored pencils) which seem to emphasize the boy’s hopes and fears. His imagination (something must have gone wrong, like bears coming to stomp on the garden!) will resonate with kids, who must likewise get impatient when Spring takes a long time to arrive. Although this is a stark contrast to Grandpa’s Garden, which emphasized the green and brightness of growing plants, And Then It’s Spring is a perfect almost-spring picture book, which emphasizes the wait that comes in those last brown and gray days of winter.
What “spring” books do you recommend for fall and winter reading?